Posted by Abe Sauer on July 30, 2010 05:00 PM
This Bud's for you. Unless you're in the European Union. In that case, this Budvar is for you.
After a decade and a half battle to trademark the Budweiser brand in European Union, the European Court of Justice has ruled against the AB InBev's "King of Beers" and in favor of its Czech challenger Budvar. Adding insult to injury, AB InBev was ordered to pay Budvar's legal fees.
The Budvar beer brand, headquartered in České Budějovice, may now freely and without concern continue to distribute its brew, known as "Budweiser Budvar," throughout Europe. AB InBev, meanwhile, is wondering what to do next.
For branding and trademark aficionados, the Buweiser dust-up is fascinating.
Although the Anheuser-Busch "Budweiser" label was registered in United States in 1878, Budweiser Bürgerbräu had been exporting to the U.S. for years before that. As "budweiser" is a German word describing a product or person from the city of České Budějovice, it was actually Anheuser-Busch that "borrowed" and trademarked the name from the Czechs.
Over the years, Anheuser-Busch and Budvar have cut all kinds of deals, allowing the brands to coexist, if not peacefully, at least without bothering each other.
In the U.S., Budvar is sold as "Czechvar." While in Germany, Budwesier is known as der Abfall "Anheuser-Busch B." The brand battle has stretched the globe, with "Budweiser" lawsuits filed as far away as Hong Kong.
An AB InBev spokesperson said the ruling "has no effect on Anheuser-Busch InBev's business in Europe or our existing Bud and Budweiser rights, which remain strong and intact." Experts have wondered how that can possibly be the case, given that AB InBev cannot use the label "Budweiser" in Germany.
Then again, "Anheuser-Busch B," is kind of catchy. Maybe InBev could charge more? They'll need to upgrade the ingredients, however, to charge 33 euros a bottle.